This article offers a critical appraisal of the role played by cultural identity in intercultural bilingual Arabic-Hebrew schools in Israel. While engineered as oases of interculturalism amidst a life of ethnic segregation, such schools ultimately confront serious difficulties in escaping the constraints of identity politics and representation. This is expressed by the leading part that group identity plays in the schools' everyday life. By drawing on the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, we argue that this state of affairs diminishes the potential of the intercultural encounter to overcome emotional and conceptual inhibitions reigning in larger society. Interculturalism, in order to distance itself from a politics of ressentiment that can only restrict its capacity to flourish, needs to place itself before representation.